Torah and Veda are two ancient sources of spirituality still vibrant today. Torah is conveyed through the sacred language of Hebrew and Veda is conveyed through the sacred language of Sanskrit. The focus here is on meditation, mysticism, philosophy, psychology and the underlying spirituality that has been incorporated into religions, and not as much on the religions themselves. Your comments and posts are welcome.

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Bibliography/Book Review; Baum, L. Frank, The Wizard of Oz

Bibliography/Book Review;
Baum, L. Frank, The Wizard of Oz.

This is probably the first book about spirituality that I ever read, although at the time that I read it as a child, I was not fully aware of its spiritual profundity. That insight only came much later, as an adult. It is interesting to note that Baum became a Theosophist and sent two of his children to an Ethical Culture Society school. The Ethical Culture Society is quite interesting, and was founded by Felix Adler, the son of a prominent New York City rabbi, as an attempt to modernize and universalize religion and spirituality (Albert Einstein was a supporter). Below are observations I have previously written about this book and its message:

There has been a popularization and emphasis in recent years among some spiritual teachers of the concept that realization is achieved by expanding the present moment, the Now. They urge us to let go of neurotically dwelling on the past and anxiously anticipating the future, to the detriment of hardly being aware of the present, which is all that really ever exists. Expanding a sense of the present, of the Now, will provide a refreshing and invigorating perspective. Such a realization does not require a long and arduous search and effort or assistance from others. We all have the self-contained ability to arrive upon this realization right now.

This is really not a new message, as it has existed in various forms in spiritual teachings for a long time. It is no better portrayed than in the modern American tale of The Wizard of Oz. A traumatic event spurs Dorothy to embark upon a search to find her home, which she thinks she has lost. During her search, her consciousness is greatly expanded and opened to realms beyond her wildest imagination. It takes an encounter with a humbug wizard to lead her to the final realization that the ability to find home was always in her possession all along. It didn’t require a great search and lengthy effort to arrive upon an elusive goal attainable only in the vague and uncertain future of sometime later. It was available right now! The humbug also assists her traveling companions in coming to the realization that they all already possessed the qualities they were searching for elsewhere, so maybe he wasn’t such a humbug after all! This is a portrayal of what one teacher has coined “The Paradox of Instruction” – all that a spiritual teacher can really do is take something out of a student’s back pocket, buff it up, and give it back as a gift. The honest spiritual teachers admit to this sleight of hand; the less than honest ones lead the students to think the gift has come from somewhere else, and that they are indebted to the teacher for what has been bestowed upon them from out of their own pockets! But perhaps Dorothy’s and her companions’ searches and adventures leading to their revelations were somehow beneficial, and maybe even necessary. Perhaps without those preliminaries, they wouldn’t have been able to realize the value of the gifts bestowed upon them by the wizard.

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